April 22, 2024

How do people choose to end this year? Do they exchange gifts with friends and families? Attend holiday parties in the community or in their offices? For me, I didn’t realize the gravity of how this year’s Christmas fated me to return to our local church after four years of absence. It’s like when you have a big dream and you want to find yourself in the world you sacrifice these kinds of commitments.
On Dec. 17 – that was Sunday, where most of churches have scheduled their Christmas party, I was tasked to lead a team in organizing an afternoon family church event. Three days before that, I was computing the grades of my college students so I practically didn’t sleep. I prayed, “Lord, if this is your will, please help me finish my grades, so I have time to serve you.” Then in the evening, I had online meetings with my friends Bryan, Sheena, and Resu and we planned out the program.
Presentations like singing and dancing would surely delight people. The children reciting verses is a treat. So with games like, “trip to Jerusalem” in the sound of our Igorot tayaw, or paper dance with a lot of Christmas songs playing in background, then we had the customized “Family Feud”, only we customized it with biblical characters.
We also inserted raffles for first-time attendees to stay until the end of the program.
Then we included a funny recognition we call ‘Kalabasa Award 2023’ – we chose 10 witty and funny members to give the kalabasa trophy – like the one who had the most hair colors done within the year, the family with perfect attendance, and the wittiest name, our Pastor Rizaldy – whose birthday is Rizal Day, Dec. 30.
Most of the extension and outreach activities were scheduled the week after. Our Friday group decided to do give to three families we selected and visited their homes before we end the year. We sang Christmas carols and bought some groceries as gifts. We visited an old church member whose grandson we learned has a lot of complications due to premature birth. We saw the difficult situation of the teenage mother for the baby is sickly and on tubes. We also visited our former youth leader who was diagnosed with cancer. In between the visits, we cannot hold back our tears. The last family we saw lives in a small caretaker house. Yet in the smallness of their home such greatness we have seen how warmly they ushered us in.
It was not part of the plan but it happened anyway. When we are in the middle of Christmas celebrating Jesus we do not turn a blind eye to those who are sick, hurting and hungry. I learned this from my mother, her appearance of happiness is always in moderation but her charity floods with tears when she held the hands of the sick, even if it happens at the same time she always smiles.